Four green houses equals one red hotel. Rich Dad Poor Dad author Robert Kyosaki promotes the strategy from the board game Monopoly, in his new book, Unfair Advantage, how real estate contributes to an individual’s financial security. This is a story of financial security and real estate transformation.
With the untimely death of my Step Dad, Rev. Lynn McCallum, my mom, Mary – a retired Toledo school teacher and about the hardest working woman I know – was facing an entirely different outcome in her golden years, retirement without her love her life partner while on a reduced widow’s pension income. Still reeling from the 2008 financial crisis, it was clear to her the stock market could not be relied on to provide her the needed income security for the long haul. She couldn’t have been less financially secure.
Ever the financial tactician, mom thought real estate. Prices were right and people still needed a place to call home. She suggested a joint venture with survivor-ship, if I got involved, so I was in.
We set about prospecting for properties in the Old West End, because we figured we needed to stick close to home, close to what we know, close to friends and neighbors – people who will look out for the place – people who refer good renters.
We decided we wanted a turn around project, a real fixer upper. Because, we wanted to earn sweat equity, we were up to the task, we were capable, and because we care about these old homes in our neighborhood. We know renters like these old homes and this old neighborhood. And we know our neighbors like to see homes saved, especially those dwelling closest to the improvements.
In May of 2011, we found 619 Acklin Ave available and destined for board-up. A crack house or arson prospect in the making. The previous occupant died a year prior leaving behind his food and effects. A squatter had taken up residence. Squalor prevailed. Mice infested the food stocks. Broken window served squatter’s entry, cats soon followed – the place a mousers killing floor. Our Realtor, Deb Kuron, described it as the worst home she’d ever entered. She would not go past the dining room, never to see the second floor or the basement. All around little headless mice could be seen. Apparently with so many mice on which to feed, the cats devoured only the most nutrient rich part of the mouse. An extended cold and wet spring delayed decay in what was now the beginnings of putrid rot.
Home sweet home.
In the summer with the kids out of school my two sons, then seven and eleven, were enlisted by their Mamu (Mah Moo) Mary. Demo and debris hauling a perfect fit for two energetic youngsters. The younger boy, who we’ll just call Little Mouse, so enthused with the idea of demolition asked his Mamu to buy him his own special sledge hammer, a hand held job with a spike on the back side – selected with care toward the task from among the hammers in the Home Depot hand tool aisle. She obliged. She encouraged. He spent hours upon hours in the house banging away. He loved his hammer, he loved what it did to the plaster walls. He loved the house. He called it the Mouse House.
And so did we.
And this is how the Mouse House was born, and the idea of Mouse House Studios; rental property development, renovations, and property management in the Old West End.